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Social Contract Theory of John Locke Essay

Abstract John Locke’s theory of the Social Contract is ”merely a reasoned description of sound government but also a history of government from the earliest scatterings of humans, through their association in a social contract, to their rebellion when the terms of that contract are breached. ” 1 This theory gives us the reason behind the idea that government only works if the people want to be governed. Any individual in this instance has the expectation that they and what they do are only limited by their own will.

So under the social contract theory, the individual gives up some of its right in order to reap the benefits of what a social order can offer. Introduction Locke’s Theory says that before a society is formed men live “free” in a state of nature. In this society, although there are great things about living free in such a society, it carries the risk of having problems about all kinds of things and without a civil law authority; man was the arbiter of all. Locke’s theory brings to mind the old west. In little town with no law officer, the people or community carried out its own brand of justice.

A man protected his home and family by any means necessary. The social contract theory gives them that right. Criminological Theory The theory has basis in today’s criminal justice system in that there are segments of society that believe that the law doesn’t apply to them nor does it protect them. For example, the perception is that the amount of crime in the inner city is rampant. It is widely reported on the news every night. There are always stories on these neighborhoods if and only if it is sensational and /or involves a Caucasian citizen.

This argument bears out when newspapers print banner headlines about Caucasian children being missing or kidnapped and the nation is on the lookout for this child. Then, when an African American child goes missing, the first thing we hear about is that a pedophile was seen with him or his parents were drug dealers or someone in his family was convicted of a crime. The residents of the inner city have then learned that there is one set of laws for minorities or residents of the inner city and one set for those in the suburbs.

In some instances they believe that there is no need for you to report some things to law enforcement because some how it will be the residents fault. The social contract theory is alive and well in the inner city. In Bill Lawson’s paper “Crime, Minorities, and the social contract “ he posits that if the citizens of a particular neighborhood or group believe that government hasn’t done their job by adequately protecting them from crime and they take matters into their own hands according to Locke they are well within their rights.

This comes from the idea that “One of the most important benefits of the state provides that of protection. This protection can be from either from outside invaders or unsavory characters within the state, that is, those individuals who want to infringe on property right by stealing, defrauding, or destroying property. ”2 In the inner city, this seems more prevalent so if the citizens of that area believe that they are under served they tend to look to other means to protect themselves.

Conclusion There are areas in the inner city that don’t expect the police to show up when something happens and when they do show up the people don’t expect them to do much. That expectation brings the social contract back into focus. For so long they believed that the government was protecting them, then after a while they came to believe that they had to protect themselves thereby enforcing the social contract with themselves and not the government.


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